In our efforts to read lots of chapter books to my four year old, I have been looking into a variety of books. We began with easy readers from the library. Some were not even true chapter books, but they were still lengthy and divided into shorter stories...and a good beginning! (A favorite was Owl at Home. Some other, lengthier books we enjoyed early on were Raggedy Ann and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. Linked to reviews.) We still enjoy easy chapter books, especially the Level 1 readers that M can help read, but she has a good attention span and also enjoys longer books. (Currently we are reading Cricket in Times Square.) Unless a book has specifically recommended by a trusted source (Reading to Know and Hope is the Word come to mind) I tend to preview in advance since my daughter is only 4, and may not be ready for what 6 year olds are reading. I've recently been exploring some Christian chapter books, with young readers in mind.
Susan K Marlow wrote the Circle C Beginnings series for ages 6-8, sprinkled with cute illustrations throughout the books. Andi is a young girl growing up in the 1870's out west. I've read Andi's Pony Trouble and Andi's Indian Summer and look forward to sharing these with my daughter. Though Andi and her friend Riley have more independence than children these days, it's realistic and appropriate. Of course, they also have many more responsibilities. I especially liked Andi's Indian Summer. Andi learns the consequences of not obeying when she has nightmares and gets scared when she meets some friendly Indians. I found Andi's attitude in Pony Trouble a bit annoying. She was so focused on getting a horse and proving that she was ready for it, that her attitude was often disrespectful. We'll wait a bit longer to share that one, but I do think it would be appropriate for the target age range of 6-8.
There are other books in the Circle C Beginnings series that I hope to get soon, too! Not only that, but Andi grows up! For 9-14 year olds, Circle C Adventures will be exciting! Author Susan K. Marlow has some well-written, enjoyable books here! The Christian message is rather subtle but there. It's perfect for sharing with non-Christian readers, too. Thank you, Kregel Publications for sending these books to me for review! They'll be long enjoyed, first as a read aloud, and then as independent reading. I highly recommend Circle C Beginnings!
Lori Z. Scott has written the Meghan Rose books. Though it's been years since I read the Junie B. Jones books, I think the same audience would enjoy them. (One thing I definitely want to point out is that the Meghan Rose books use appropriate grammar and mean words are not used, unlike Junie B! I know that has been an issue for many parents-and teachers- with the Junie B. Jones series.) Meghan Rose is a typical first grader. She has opinions and is happy to share them. She's smart-sometimes too smart. Sometimes she makes poor choices (typical first grader!!), but she comes around to see the error of her ways. The Christian message is there, but not "in-your-face."
Christian Children's Book Review.) Then I bought a couple for my church's library, too. I think they're great! To preview the books before sharing them with my daughter, I read Meghan Rose Takes the Cake and Meghan Rose Knows It All. I really enjoyed both books and the mistakes, mishaps, and even Meghan's misdirected thoughts and actions. Through these books, she learns her lessons and figures out what God would have her do. I also like how Meghan Rose has to deal with a mean girl. There are plenty of illustrations to keep young readers happy, too. The books are short (less than 100 pages), but the final pages are filled with questions (with Bible application suggestions!) and extension activities. Since Meghan Rose Knows It All shows how much Meghan knows about rocks, there are lots of rock-related activities. (The best part is that Meghan Rose learns the difference between knowledge and wisdom!) In Meghan Rose Takes the Cake, Meghan and her classmates learn to be generous and creative as they earn money for their school's penny wars.
I really love the Meghan Rose series. However, I do have a complaint...I not going to share them with my daughter yet! Since the main setting is Meghan's first grade classroom, I feel that there is too much school "stuff" (spelling tests, principal's office, penny wars, announcements) to have them be a great read-aloud now, though they are appropriate for ages 4-8. If my daughter was in kindergarten now, I'd share them, but we have another full year before that happens. Isn't that a funny complaint? Regardless, this is another great series, and I highly recommend Meghan Rose and think school-aged kids will love them!
You might be interested in the Meghan Rose website or the Circle C Beginnings website to get a better idea of the books. Then, go out and buy some of these books or request them at your library!
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